Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Falklands Supplement for Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

    Posted By on September 23, 2016

    Greg Priebe just completed his Combat Patrol(TM) supplement for the Falklands. It includes some optional rules, stats for new equipment and vehicles, and unit organizations.  It is available for FREE download on the Sally 4th page and also on the Combat Patrol(TM) Web page.

    Enjoy!

    Ma’k Morin’s Fantasy Rules

    Posted By on September 19, 2016

    To culminate gaming weekend to commemorate Ma’k Morin’s visit to the Aberdeen area, Mark ran a test of his fantasy rules at Wood’s Hole (Dave’s basement).  It involved “bad guys,” like Orcs, insect men, fire-spitting salamanders, goblins, and others, attempting to capture the tower from the “good” guys, composed of humans, dwarves, elves, and Roomans.

    You can see a lot of cards around the table.  Each unit in Mark’s game has a card with all its attributes, characteristics, and special abilities.  Mark wasn’t sure how many players we would have, so he planned for eight.  With only four players, we had a lot of figures to control, and it was hard to find the right card.  When players have the right number of units, I think managing the cards would be easier.

    Roomans in the defense

    Roomans in the defense

    In this picture you can see Mark’s Roomans (with reddish fur) and my Roomans (in green) preparing to defend a strong position against the bad guys.  Both Dave and Eric sent forces to attack this position.  I managed to fend off the succubus and the first fire-breathing salamander, but by the end of the game, Eric’s second salamander was approach and his Elite Death Guard Cavalry was about to get behind me.

    Don's dwarves defending a series of cheveaux de fris

    Don's dwarves defending a series of cheveaux de fris

    There are a few things that can be done to streamline and improve the rules, but it went pretty well as a first test.

    My largely ineffective "automatic" ballista atop the tower we were defending

    My largely ineffective "automatic" ballista atop the tower we were defending

    We had been gaming since Friday evening, and we had to quit this game around 1400, so we didn’t fight the battle to a conclusion.  I think the outcome remained in doubt when we quit.    It was a fun game, and it was fun to see a lot of Mark’s troops on the table for the first time in 30 years.

    War of 1812 with Combat Patrol

    Posted By on September 19, 2016

    Long shot of the War of 1812 game

    Long shot of the War of 1812 game

    This weekend our club got together for a series of game in my war room.  The second game of the day was Duncan’s War of 1812 skirmish game using Combat Patrol(TM).  Duncan has been working on an adaptation of the Combat Patrol(TM): World War II for the Napoleonic era for some months.  A purpose of this play test was to work through Duncan’s artillery rules.  While we think that artillery doesn’t really have a place in a black powder skirmish game, since its effects are sort of “nuclear” in a game with just a handful of figures, several Combat Patrol(TM) players have asked for artillery rules.

    This skirmish game involved several British units converging on an American supply dump in the upper Niagara area.  The British and Canadians had to gather supplies from the cabins and wagons while we Americans had to stop them.

    American artillery position

    American artillery position

    Because we wanted to test the artillery rules, part of the Canadian objective was to capture this American gun emplacement.  The story was that the Canadians could bring a small ship to the dock to haul away supplies if the gun was silenced.  I was on the other end of the table, betting slapped around by Canadians, but I understand that the two shots of canister that were fired had a devastating effect.

    The action begins to heat up

    The action begins to heat up

    A couple of my defenders facing off against the Canadians in the woods in the distance

    A couple of my defenders facing off against the Canadians in the woods in the distance

    One of the things that is different between this set of rules and the base WWII rules is that between shots, figures must spend an action to reload.  You can see some white pipe cleaners in the pictures.  Those were used to mark when a musket had been fired and needed to be reloaded.  In this picture you can also see a white rubber band around one figure (marking him as wounded) and a black rubber band (marking him as stunned).

    There was a lot of fighting around this field.

    With the small modifications that Duncan has made, Combat Patrol(TM) is working very well for the black powder era.  We have accounted for the differences between close order and open order units, cavalry, and now artillery.  This supplement is getting very close to being releasable.  Stay tuned.

    First Run of Cyber Phase of LSNC: Science Fiction

    Posted By on September 18, 2016

    Yesterday, I had a bunch of HAWKs to my war room to play three games.  I set up the gaming day because a West Point buddy, Ma’k Morin was coming for the weekend to visit Dave Wood.  One of the games I ran was an initial test of the cyber phase of the Look, Sarge, No Charts: Science Fiction rules that we are beginning to pull together.  The idea is that between turns, the two sides’ cyber forces fight for control of each others networks by allocating their cyber teams to attack or defend.  Based on the outcome of the cyber phase, the sides draw cards that provide cyber effects that can be applied during the turn.  Examples are the ability to “pin” an enemy unit, get an extra activation for a friendly unit, interrupt an enemy artillery mission, etc.

    I have many of my science fiction figures painted and based; however, I haven’t put much thought into the unit attributes, so those forces aren’t ready to game yet.  Instead, I put a bunch of France 1940 figures on the table but added the cyber phase.  Again, the purpose was for this to be an initial test of the cyber phase.

    So, how did it go?  Actually very well for a first attempt, I think.  The cyber effects were meaningful and interesting, but they did not overwhelm the game.  In this first play test, Kurt’s company of panzer grenadiers got to the bridge (pictured above), which was their objective.  Then Chris drew some really good and timely cyber effects that first pinned the armored battalion (to which the panzer grenadiers belonged) and then in the next turn, took an activation away from the panzer grenadier company.  This delayed the German advance for two, critical turns.

    The cyber fight went okay.  While there is the potential for wild swings in the status of the penetration of enemy networks, in this first play test, the outcomes were very evenly matched, so there was little progress along the “cyber penetration” track.  Only in the last turn did Chris get a strong result that propelled him to a portion of the track where he could get two cyber cards per turn.  I am going to make one or two small adjustments, but nothing major until I get a couple more tests of the current ideas.

    Star Wars with Combat Patrol

    Posted By on September 18, 2016

    Greg the GM surveys his dominion

    Greg the GM surveys his dominion

    Yesterday we tested Greg’s scenario and rules modifications to use Combat Patrol(TM) for Star Wars.  It’s probably not surprising that the rules worked well for Star Wars, as the film franchise is light on science and heavy on action.

    Rebels preparing their forces

    Rebels preparing their forces

    Greg built the cards for the various units.  For the Rebel speeder sleds, we just used the record cards for SdKfz 251 halftracks.  For the “chicken walkers,” or AT-ST, we just used the stats for the US M-5 Stuart light tank.  Greg, who is much more in tune with the Star Wars lore than I am, said that these are lightly armored and easily knocked out.

    Rebel APCs moving toward the objective

    Rebel APCs moving toward the objective

    The Rebels started in one corner of the board.  Their objective was to get the droid (shown in the APC in the picture, above) to the opposite corner of the table and off the board.  The Imperial objective was to stop that from happening.

    Stormtroopers moving into position in the town

    Stormtroopers moving into position in the town

    The terrain consisted of a desert town that occupied about a third of the board.  Since the towns on the desert worlds of Star Wars look Middle Eastern, I used my Crescent Root Middle Eastern buildings.  Before he runs this scenario at a convention, Greg is going to build up some bits to give it a little more of a science fiction look, but in general, I think the Star Wars figures looked pretty good next the Middle Eastern terrain.

    A "chicken walker" blocks the path of the Rebels

    A "chicken walker" blocks the path of the Rebels

    While the Rebels had to get from one corner to the opposite corner, the Imperial forces started equally divided between the other two corners.  From each corner the Imperial forces had an AT-ST.  These were placed in the scenario to give the Stormtroopers a chance to cut off the Rebel escape.

    Geoff's AT-ST gets knocked out by a rebel "projectile launcher"

    Geoff's AT-ST gets knocked out by a rebel "projectile launcher"

    You can see Geoff’s reaction tot he loss of his AT-ST in this video:  IMG_0091.MOV

    Rebels hide behind a wall preparing for an assault on the Stormtroopers

    Rebels hide behind a wall preparing for an assault on the Stormtroopers

    Kurt’s APC is knocked out by small arms fire from Eric’s Stormtroopers.

    Rebels take incoming HE fire from the Stormtroopers

    Rebels take incoming HE fire from the Stormtroopers

    Eric launches some HE at Bill’s rebels.

    Rebels caught in a deadly Imperial crossfire

    Rebels caught in a deadly Imperial crossfire

    I had a team of Rebel infantry that was moving into the town to distract the Stormtroopers and keep them from interdicting the path of the APC with the droid.  I got pretty aggressive, and Eric hit me with two teams and a bag full of grenades.   It didn’t go well for my Rebels, but it did stop these two Imperial teams from repositioning to fire on my APC.

    Stormtroopers taking up blocking positions

    Stormtroopers taking up blocking positions

    In the end, despite a lot of fire from Geoff’s infantry, I managed get close to the opposite corner with the droid.  Eric or Geoff hit the driver with small arms fire, which caused the vehicle to lose an activation of movement.  I dismounted the infantry and fired on Geoff’s Stormtroopers while continuing to flee with the APC.  I was eventually able to drive off the table, so we Rebels won the game.

    Gun Mount on Sarissa Armored Train

    Posted By on September 13, 2016

    In my previous post about a recent Poland 1939 Combat Patrol (TM) game, I showed some pictures of the Sarissa armored train MDF and paper kit.  In a couple of the pictures you can see an empty area that was obviously meant for some sort of weapon.  I thought that it would be a good place for an artillery observer or machine-gun crew.  Duncan found this picture on the Warlord Web site:

    Carissa armored artillery carriage with quad anti-aircraft gun

    Carissa armored artillery carriage with quad anti-aircraft gun

    While the train is obviously meant to be German, based on the shape of the turret provided for one of the other cars, I wanted it for a Polish armored train.  I did some looking for Polish WWII anti-aircraft guns and found these pictures.

    Polish 40mm Bofors anti-aircfaft gun

    Polish 40mm Bofors anti-aircfaft gun

    This is a technique for anti-aircraft fire if you have no purpose-built anti-aircraft weapons.  We were still taught this technique in the 1980s.  I don't know if there is a documented case of this ever working.

    This is a technique for anti-aircraft fire if you have no purpose-built anti-aircraft weapons. We were still taught this technique in the 1980s. I don't know if there is a documented case of this ever working.

    I figured it shouldn’t be too hard to find a 40mm Bofors anti-tank gun in scale for 28mm figures.  Voila!  Warlord had one in their Bolt Action line.

    I figure that I could file the edges of the helmets down and make this a passable Polish crew.  I have not seen the kit in person, but for every kit like this I have ever seen the carriage and the gun mount are separate.  I can use this as a ground-mounted gun in some scenarios and then put the gun in the train for other scenarios.  Unfortunately I just put in an order for Polish tankettes and the Wz-34 armored cars, so I won’t be ordering from Warlord any time soon, but it will go on my “next time I order” list.

    Poland 1939 with Combat Patrol

    Posted By on September 12, 2016

    At Historicon this Summer I had a chance to pick up the Sarissa armored train for 28mm figures.  Though it is meant to be a German train, I think, it works pretty well as a Polish train.  In these pictures you can see that I have sprayed it in field yellow and have not air brushed the brown and green camouflage pattern.  (I got out the airbrush and found out is was broken.)   Last Friday I put the scenario I plan to run at Fall In (in November) on the table at club night.

    In the scenario, a Polish train has parked on a road that the Germans need.  The leading German forces have been tasked to capture the train so that it can be moved.  The Polish platoon is trying to defeat as many Germans as possible.  The idea is that a major German offensive is coming down this road, and it is imperative to get the train out of the way.  The rear car of the train has a gun that has run out of ammunition, so the train’s only armament is a 37mm gun in the forward turret.  The Germans entered the table along the top edge of the photo.  They had two half tracks and a truck full of infantry.  They had three more infantry squads and two Pz 38(t) light tanks.  The Poles had a light anti-tank gun and an anti-tank rifle.

    Note that the Germans did not have to destroy all the Poles.  They merely needed to capture the train.  Most gamers will stop and fight, regardless of the mission, but this group had seasoned HAWKs who focused on the objective of capturing the train.  I defined capturing the train as having three infantrymen in the cab.

    The Poles deployed no infantry in or around the train, deciding to defend well forward.  The Germans wisely avoided the obvious killing ground in the center of the table and attacked along both flanks.  The Germans did not know that only one of the two train turrets was operational, so they moved cautiously to stay out of its lines of sight.  The shack in the center of the table was unoccupied, and the Poles didn’t really have an opportunity to occupy it.  The shack did serve to limit the Poles’ lines of sight and enable the German infantry to move forward from the corn field.

    The Poles had a strong infantry defensive position in the center, but the Germans avoided the area.  On the Polish left, the green German squads in the halftracks and truck moved up through the woods.  The Poles had place a small force on the small hill just off to the right of the picture above.  Their purpose was to slow down the German advance.  They did so, but at extreme cost.  They even tried to toss a satchel charge into the midst of the advancing Germans but it didn’t land were intended and did no damage.  As we called the game the Germans were swarming over the hill and advancing toward the front of the train.

    Unfortunately I didn’t get any shots of the German armor advancing on the Polish right flank.  They kept well out of line of sight of the anti-tank gun.  The ATR got off a shot, but missed.  The right flank Polish squad had been all but wiped out by the combined fire of several German squads and tank fire.  At the end we called the game a German victory, because it was obvious that they were going to get to the train.

    Labor Day Labors

    Posted By on September 6, 2016

    A squad of "Space Roomans"

    A squad of "Space Roomans"

    See Ma’k Morin’s blog post about Roomans here.

    Yesterday I painted 13 that Ma’k converted to “space Roomans” by combining parts of a Ral Partha Rooman with the body of a Reaper science fiction figure.  I think the conversion was quite effective.

    One fire team of "Space Roomans"

    One fire team of "Space Roomans"

    I cut some of the arms and re-glued them to give a little more variety to the posing.  It was a primitive conversion job, but from wargaming distance, they look okay.

    The other fire team of "Space Roomans"

    The other fire team of "Space Roomans"

    Beware space farers when you hear the fear-inspiring battle cry of the Romman marines:  ”Roop! Roop! Adoop!”

    The back of the squad leader

    The back of the squad leader

    Ducks!

    Posted By on September 4, 2016

    My buddy Ma’k made some molds of these long out-of-production figures.  They are ducks from the RuneQuest line.  He gave them to me a few months back, and this weekend I was able to get them painted.

    A view of some of the ducks

    A view of some of the ducks

    Another view

    Another view

    I painted half with the “sun” design on their shields and the other half with the “moon” design.  This unit should see action in the near future, I hope.  The the feathers fly!

    A final view

    Giant Space Aliens

    Posted By on September 4, 2016

    Reaper science fiction figure, giant space alien, and Pig Iron heavy infantry

    Reaper science fiction figure, giant space alien, and Pig Iron heavy infantry

    A few months back, I ordered some giant space aliens to go with my growing science fiction figure collection for Combat Patrol(TM).  This weekend I finally finished painting them.   I decided that the giant, fierce-looking aliens would look good in ice-cream colored uniforms.

    Reaper science fiction figures facing the giant space aliens

    Reaper science fiction figures facing the giant space aliens

    I think for a science fiction game it is neat to have some oversized creatures.  Not everyone on every planet might be the same size.

    Squad of giant space aliens

    Squad of giant space aliens

    I like the leader with the whip and pistol.  He’s ready to keep his rough and ready squad in line — or conduct his lion taming show in the circus.

    "We have come for your women..."

    "We have come for your women... Stand aside!"

    Giant space aliens face off against Pig Iron heavy infantry.

    Giant space aliens face off against Pig Iron heavy infantry.

    I hope they don’t have trouble fitting through the hatches when they board and attack the space ship I intend to build.